NetMore America Inc. switches directions

The local company is operating with a new partnership.

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WALLA WALLA - NetMore America Inc., a mortgage lender started during the subprime crisis as the "next generation mortgage bank," is undergoing a drastic change in its model, founder Mark Freedle said Friday.

Staffing at the firm he started in 2007 has been "substantially" reduced as part of a new partnership with a Chicago-based group that will take over "the heavy lifting" on the funding of loans, he said. The changeover was brought on by the continued volatility in the market, he said.

Freedle said he plans to remain in Walla Walla with a small team of one or two people. The balance of the operation will be handled by a small group out of Portland; the rest in Chicago, he said.

Two people inside the Main Street office in the Struthers Building on Friday morning said the operation had closed. But in a telephone interview about two hours later, Freedle said that's not entirely true.

"NetMore America Inc. continues to maintain its licenses and its ability to fund loans," he said.

When asked the name of the Chicago firm, Freedle said he had been asked not to disclose the group's identity.

He said NetMore is "exiting (its) retail production channel."

The direction is a sharp detour from Freedle's original vision to grow NetMore out of the crash of the American housing market into one of the country's top lenders.

Within a year after quietly starting the business, he had 150 people on board and at least 18 retail branches.

"Welcome to the world of business," Freedle said of the new change.

"Certainly this was not the vision for the company. But the legislative landscape and the volatility in the industry has continued fast and furious," he continued. "We're very cognizant of that and trying to position ourselves as best we can."

What impact this change may have on the Home Loan Center, started by Freedle years before NetMore and described on its website as a subsidiary of NetMore America, was not clear. Home Loan Center branch Manager Tim Applebee was not available for comment Friday.

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